I know what you’re thinking: wait, this Wednesday is already the season finale of You’re the Worst?! Yep, and that’s why it’s time to take a quick look back at the 10 best parts of Season 3 of TV’s best show about its worst people:
Lindsay’s Paul-stabbing/Gretchen’s Spanish-speaking: these each happened in the season’s first episode, it’s true, but I loved them both for the same reason: here’s a woman we hate-love, doing something we love-love, making another character we hate-love realize that he has to stop underestimating said woman. And what’s great about YTW is that these forget-what-you-think-you-know moments aren’t smarmy, aren’t a “victory” for any particular side; if anything, the women are just learning about themselves as well.
Gretchen’s constant invasion of her therapist’s space. Even when she’s not talking, witness, if you will, Samira Wiley’s face when Gretchen accosts her in public: an awkward waltz between “this is entirely and completely inappropriate” and “if I don’t help this wretched societal misfit, that’s even worse.” Meanwhile Aya Cash doggedly projects a person without the slightest iota of shame. More than most of this season, these priceless scenes delightfully reminded us of the veracity of the title of the show: oh right, she is the Worst.
Jimmy’s Dad’s funeral: Would it be crazy if I said this was the best funeral scene of all time? I loved how awkward the chairs and people looked. I was entirely not expecting Jimmy’s Dad’s friend to read his note from beyond the grave. I was expecting Jimmy to run up there in spite of himself, but I could never have predicted how many times I laughed while Jimmy gave his ramshackle eulogy. You wouldn’t think that Ben Folds could get laughs when he has to compete with the rest of the enlarged cast, especially Vernon, but damn if he didn’t. Damn throwing your dad’s ashes on Tony Shalhoub’s house only to have them rain all over you. Damn.
Sex in general on You’re the Worst: watching Jimmy and Gretchen copulate, or Paul and Lindsay with various “cucks,” manages to be neither exploitative nor sexy nor laugh-out-loud funny. Instead it conveys a squirmy, weirded-out feeling that you might get if you peered in on your friends boinking and you kept noticing the cellulite. (I have never seen cellulite on You’re the Worst, I refer merely to a feeling.) Sex on YTW just goes along with the show’s unsentimental approach to everything, its refusal to turn its characters into over-cute millennials saying “is that a thing?”
Edgar and PTSD: I love a show that rewards you for paying attention, and in the case of this season’s 5th episode, “Twenty-Two,” combined it with our feeling of sympathy for all the times Edgar suffered Gretchen and Jimmy’s “worsty” behavior. Real-life therapists have complimented YTW’s approach to this very real illness, and if they’re right I just want to add that such verisimilitude is doubly impressive when it doesn’t come with some sort of preachy, pedantic message. The show keeps us laughing through Edgar’s suffering, which means Desmin Borges’ work remains brilliant. Bonus: loved the just-awkward-enough black-and-white film-student ending.
Sunday Funday: I give credit to this show for inventing Sunday Funday, I don’t care what anyone else says. And I also give the show massive props for deconstructing its own artifices, for being willing to take that Burning Man-like wrecking ball to its precious creations (unlike, say, “Treehouse of Horror” Part 27). Integrating everyone’s most desperate needs, including Paul’s, was masterful. I guess I’m saying I believe the show when it claims that this was, as the episode was titled, “The Last Sunday Funday.” But even if it wasn’t, the episode was so puzzly and scavenger-hunty that I wouldn’t mind another.
Jimmy’s writing process montage: in the hustle and bustle of recaps and TV consumption, it’s easy to lose sight of how brilliant one particular two-minute segment can be, and in this case I’m thinking of the first minutes of this season’s 7th episode, “The Only Thing That Helps.” Love all the quick edits and sped-up footage, love the hostility to friends, love Chris Geere’s looks of inspiration, love the actual words on the computer screen (those aren’t easy to come up with!), love the calisthenics, love the dishes piling up leading to the teacup on the faucet head. You can tell it came from a personal place. Somehow the show pulled off the contradiction of using a NASCAR pace to convey the glacial pace of writing.
Gretchen calling out her friends: I love the “meta” aspect of the 8th episode, “Genetically Inferior Beta Males”; just in case anyone is sitting at home saying, “Geez, why don’t they all just get over it?”, here’s Gretchen agreeing with you and working on it for you. And I also love Aya Cash’s performance, where she calls bullshit on people while you can still sense her barely repressing her own bullshit. You know you’ve belly-flopped into a painful comeuppance when Edgar, the show’s nice guy, tells you by the end “I hate you.”
Sam: I love any scene with Brandon Mychal Smith. I love watching his mouth twist and turn while his eyes stay exquisitely locked on one side of his head. I loved the elopement ceremony episode less because of all those tricky shots but more because we got more of Smith. I realize that the show should probably do something unpredictable and have Gretchen give Sam a big comeuppance, but why mess with the perfect way it works now?
Jimmy on full tilt: if last season was all about Gretchen and the astonishing acting of Aya Cash, this season has swung the pendulum slightly back to Jimmy and his pouty, didactic way of assuming that his intellectual description of any problem is halfway to solving said problem. (Example: when your DVR tells you that an episode is titled “The Inherent, Unsullied, Qualitative Value of Anything,” is it hard to guess who’s going to say that?) Fleetingly, I believed that Jimmy’s father’s death wouldn’t actually affect Jimmy. Geere had me convinced! I feel like this high-wire act of repression gets harder for Geere every season; shouldn’t Jimmy have realized his own shit by now? And yet we really believe he wouldn’t, and that particularly plausible deniability, if you will, is the worm at the bottom of the tequila bottle of thirtysomething angst that is You’re the Worst.
As I write, this season’s final two episodes air this Wednesday. Will Jimmy and Gretchen take their cruise? Will Killian find out what happened to his Dad? Will Lindsay become a fashion blogger? Will we find out why Jimmy didn’t just climb down from the treehouse by dangling from it? Will Edgar take credit for the passage of Prop 60 (legalizing pot in California) in a special minute that FXX wasn’t going to air if the vote went the other way? I’ll guess: none of these. But I can’t predict the show. And that’s an eleventh thing I love about this season of You’re the Worst.